Causes & Treatment of Cystic Acne

cystic acne treatmentLast Updated: Jan 27, 2015 | By Jill Leviticus

Acne is a common skin condition that affects approximately 40 to 50 million people in the U.S. according to the American Academy of Dermatology. While it’s not unusual to experience a few pimples from time to time, some people develop cystic acne, a more serious form of acne that causes painful, red cysts. Over-the-counter acne creams are ineffective in treating cystic acne, but dermatologists offer several treatments that can relieve symptoms and reduce cysts.



Severely inflamed cysts can be treated with an injection of an interlesional corticosteroid. The injection decreases inflammation and shrinks the cyst over a period of a few days. Your doctor may also prescribe an oral antibiotic to decrease bacteria. Oral contraceptives may be effective in reducing cystic acne

in women. Isotretinoin, an oral medication, is prescribed to treat severe cystic acne that has not responded to other treatments. Isotretinoin use can cause a remission of cystic acne symptoms for months or years and only one course of treatment may be needed, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Isotretinoin is a very powerful drug that can cause birth defects in unborn babies. Women who use the drug must use a reliable means of birth control and avoid breastfeeding, as the drug can be passed on to the baby through breast milk. If cysts are particularly large, your doctor may recommend drainage and surgical removal.



While it may be tempting to pop open an acne cyst, doing so can cause more pain and problems. Popping the cyst can push the oil plug deeper, worsening the cyst, and can cause infection and scarring.

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